From the TV Critics Tour – A PBS Masterpiece and more…


Lots of news coming out of Los Angeles this past week as the Television Critic’s Association’s Summer Press Tour 2011 is in full swing. For about two solid weeks, broadcast, cable and pubic television trot out the best and the brightest from in front of and behind the camera for programs/series that their respective networks have to offer the viewing public come this Fall and beyond. Saturday and Sunday were solely designated as PBS. Much of Sunday was devoted to another stellar season of Masterpiece. Thanks to Jace Lacob, TV columnist/critic for The Daily Beast and Newsweek for unknowingly helping out with a majority of today’s bits and bobs with his minute-by-minute updates via Twitter (@televisionary) from the TCA. Just wish I could have seen the Downton Abbey sizzle reel he talked about set to the song, Downtown.

Downton Abbey updates

– Much of today’s PBS presentation centered around the much-anticipated Downton Abbey, series 2. As we have mentioned several times, the series is set for a September 2011 broadcast in the UK (with a Christmas special in December) and a January 8, 2012 premiere on PBS as part of Masterpiece.

– S2 will begin in 1916, two years after series 1 ends. Lots of twists and turns, producers promise. One character from S1 will not return. Anyone guess who?  There will be many new characters added (i.e. new housemaid, new male servants, etc).

– S2 will be comprised of 9 episodes that will air over 7 weeks (again, beginning January 8 on PBS) and, according to Masterpiece exec producer, Rebecca Eaton, EVERY MINUTE OF S2 WILL BE BROADCAST IN THE U.S. NOT A SINGLE FRAME WILL BE EDITED. So, let’s just lay any potential future controversy to rest right now.

Click here for a brilliant Downton Abbey series 2 primer from the folks at Radio Times.

Sherlock update

– another long-awaited return for those on both sides of the pond. Another Fall 2011 transmission scheduled for the UK with a Spring (most likely May) 2012 premiere, again on PBS’ Masterpiece.

Upstairs Downstairs update

– what has been reported at length was a S2 premiere in the Fall on BBC but, unfortunately, now looks like a 2013 premiere on PBS. Ugh, why so long of a wait!

Other Masterpiece announcements today including one-off broadcasts of A Song of Lunch, starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, and Page Eight, with the great Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes, about an MI-5 officer caught in a conspiracy. Also, a late announcement of  a PBS/ITV co-production of a pilot called “Endeavour,” the story of early life of Inspector Morse. ITV set to announce the lead on Wednesday.

Other PBS news for the Fall had Cameron Crowe talking at length about his upcoming Pearl Jam Twenty doc which will air on PBS stations nationwide on October 21 as part of the American Masters series along with another AM doc on the life of a true “American master”, Woody Allen, in “Seriously Funny – The Comic Art of Woody Allen,” which will premiere Nov. 20 and 21 on PBS stations nationwide.

  • This post has so many morsels for me! First off, I’m hoping it’s Thomas who doesn’t return to Downton Abbey. Such a conniving weasel he was! Second, boo to a delay on more Upstairs Downstairs. Third, Page Eight sounds excellent. And last, I CANNOT WAIT for the Woody Allen American Masters. I’d been meaning to ask if you had any info on when to expect it to air, but turns out I didn’t have to pester you at all, ha. So looking forward to it all!

    • @Jessica: Not to worry. Not pestering at all. I thought I’d get a bigger boo for the wait for Sherlock. Going to be tough waiting until May for the next set of three episodes. Unfortunately, have to be the one to tell you it’s not Thomas that doesn’t make it to DA2. Another guess? Also, FYI, Woody Allen doc will be Nov 20-21 from 8-10p CT. Can’t wait for Page Eight, too!